Mailbox

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Today's Mailbox includes: Topics: Radio Prague competition. FM broadcasts in Denmark. Britain's poll on US support. Vaclav Havel's correspondence. Czech football team. Information on Czech WWII brigade in Warwickshire. Quotes from: Dr. Nooreddin Ahmed, Erik Koie, David Eldridge, Malachi Doane, Chris Bell, Allan Griffin.

We'll start with some good news - here's a question from Dr. Nooreddin Ahmed who writes to us from the Middle East - from Jordan. Mr Ahmed asks:

"Do you run any contests for listeners?"

Now that is a question many listeners have been asking and Dr Ahmed picked the right time to enquire about it as Radio Prague management has decided to launch another competition. More about that from our Editor-in-Chief, David Vaughan:

"We've just decided on a competition for this year that would involve all of Radio Prague's different language sections. The first prize, as with our previous two competitions will be a trip for two to the Czech Republic. I can't give you the precise wording of the question but it will basically ask which Czech you feel to be the most significant in Czech history and why. So we'll be asking our listeners to use a bit of imagination and think about it a little bit. We would also be delighted if it wasn't just men. We will be launching the competition at the beginning of April and the question will also be in our summer schedule brochure."

Here's some pleasant news for us here at Radio Prague and our potential listeners in Denmark - Erik Koie sent us an e-mail from Copenhagen:

"This is to inform you that, when I drove home from work this morning, I was very happy to notice that Radio Prague is now heard at 4.30-5am UTC on FM 96.1 MHz (+ some cable networks) here in Copenhagen via a new relay from our 'News Radio' (a local radio station) of WRN. Since Monday they carry WRN in English from just after 9pm until 5am UTC."

So, if our listeners in other countries plan on going to Denmark sometime in the future, the good news is that they will be able to keep up with current affairs from and about the Czech Republic.

And to those of you listening to us from Denmark - please keep the letters coming as we seem to get very few from your country and would love to hear more from you.

Since we've been urgin you to send us your questions but also comments and suggestions, let's look at a comment made by David Eldridge from Essex, in the United Kingdom:

"In saying in your report on NATO that 'the Czech Republic has expressed support for the United States and Great Britain', the great majority of Britons would find that very offensive. The pro US stance of British Prime Minister Tony Blair is only supported by 9% of the British population, according to a recent poll commissioned by the BBC. A far greater proportion of us British support the stand made by France, Belgium and Germany than they do of Tony Blair."

Unfortunately, Britain's official position has been pro US and that - as bad as it may sound - is what's important as the way it is now, an active British role in a war against Iraq would not be stopped by the British population. Let's hope that the BBC commissioned poll results will help to make a change and serve as a wake-up call for Mr Blair.

You will find the same problem in the Czech Republic. The former Czech President Vaclav Havel signed an article supporting the US position on Iraq. But if you'd ask the Czech population, you'd hear a very different opinion.

Our next letter comes from Malachi Doane, a short-wave listener high in the Adirondack mountains in New York state, USA.

He writes to us, saying he was quite disappointed when politicians in his native United States failed to reply to his letters with the questions he had regarding such things as the peace movement, and the general state of affairs in the United States. After many attempts, Malachi decided to try some different addresses, including that of Vaclav Havel when he was still Czech President. To his surprise, a personalised letter from the office of the president reached him in less than three weeks. Malachi wanted to thank the office of the president for taking the time to respond to his letter, and was surprised to see that a head of state across the Atlantic cared more about the worries of a US citizen than the US government itself.

Now, let's move onto something less political. Chris Bell listens to us via CBC Radio Overnight in Canada and asks:

"Are you hoping that the Czech Republic could send a soccer team to the next world cup of soccer in 2006 in Germany?"

Well, the Czechs were quite disappointed when they failed to qualify for the last world cup in Korea - Japan. They have had a mixed history in international competition in the past few years. They made it to the final of EURO 96, only to lose to Germany after the 90th minute. Then, they were the only team in European history to not lose a qualifying match leading up to EURO 2000, but they failed to make it past the first round. So, to answer your question I would not be surprised if they didn't make the next world cup but I think they have a very good chance. The only team in their qualifying group which could pose a threat is the Netherlands, another team which failed to make the last world cup... so it should be interesting.

Alan Griffin is a local historian and writer living in Leamington Spa in England, which was home to the Czech Government in exile and also to the Free Czechoslovakia Forces during the Second World War. Several thousand Czech soldiers were billeted in the area, playing an active role in the life of the district. According to Mr Griffin they were well respected and are still remembered with affection.

Mr Griffin therefore plans to write about this aspect of the war and has asked Radio Prague for the following assistance:

"I am very keen to make contact with any former members of the Czech Brigade who were stationed in Warwickshire and who may have reminiscences, photographs or information of any sort that they are prepared to share with me."

So if any of you listeners are able to help, Mr Alan Griffin would be most grateful if you would contact him at the following address: Braybrooke, 2a Victoria Street, Leamington Spa CV31 3PU, England.

If you failed to write this down you can visit our website at www.radio.cz/english. It will be in the transcribed version of Mailbox dated February 23 2003.

And if you have no access to the Internet just contact us and we'll forward Mr Griffin's address to you. Our address is 120 99 Prague 2 Czech Republic.

And for those of you who'd like to send us an e-mail, write to english@radio.cz